Friday 8 June 2018

Balls V Skeins: Which Gets Your Vote?

Going round yarn shows and looking at knitting websites over the last few years I've noticed  the rise and rise of the skein, otherwise known as a hank.

It seems that, apart from with budget brands, the days of expecting that wool will have already been rolled into a ball for you when you buy it have long gone. Nowadays the skein reigns - it gives an image of luxe, artisan handcraftsmanship as opposed to a cheap, bulk buy.

Doulton Flock DK Yarn image courtesy of
A quick, unscientific poll amongst knitting friends reveals they are divided on the issue. One says she can't stand the faff of unravelling skeins and rolling them into a ball - she finds it incredibly annoying spending time doing this when she'd rather be knitting. She doesn't want to splash out on a yarn swift and frankly some of them look more complicated than the old technique of winding wool round your arms.

Bobbin Birch yarn swift image courtesy of Wool Warehouse

Another said she finds buying a skein much more of a treat than a ball. They're more pleasing visually, she thinks, and when buying you get to see more of the wool.

The Croft - Shetland Tweed Aran image courtesy of West Yorkshire Spinners

It's not just small yarn companies who sell by the skein, some larger British brands, like West Yorkshire Spinners, have introduced new ranges in this format, shunning the traditional ball. Designer and author Susan Crawford is redeveloping her own wool ranges to become skein-only.

Fenella image courtesy of Susan Crawford Vintage
One person whom I asked is visually impaired and she pointed out she never buys skeins because she can't see well enough to wind them into a ball. That dislike of skeins was seconded by an older knitter who says she gets into tangles.

Mohair image courtesy of The Loveliest Yarn Company
Whereas another woman I spoke to says that skeins are a sign of quality and are easier to squish and smell then yarn wrapped in a ball.

In my experience it's certainly true that the most of the more interesting, one-off and small-scale wool brands come in skeins, and generally have a higher price tag, as opposed to those from international companies although there are exceptions to the rule such as Louisa Harding's Yarntelier Lace that's already wound into a ball.

Cashmere Lace image courtesy of Yarntelier
At first I found skeins time-consuming and rather irritating and I've had my fair share of knots, but now I've grown used to them - particularly as they've grown in prevalence in wool shops.

I'd love to hear what you think - which do you prefer? Have your say below or on our Facebook page.

No comments:

Post a Comment

© A Woolly Yarn. Powered by